Emor is one of my favorite Torah portions because it talks about our Jewish holidays. The phrase, “Kol M’lechet Avodah Lo Ta’asu” appears multiple times throughout, which makes it easy to teach to B’nai Mitzvah students. They see this phrase and know that they are at a “home base.” We also read about how God commands Moses to clearly communicate (Emor) to the young Israelite community the ways in which they are to live, which include very specific and clear-cut commandments about how to celebrate holidays, laws dealing with profanity, murder, and the maiming of others. In many ways, it parallels what we have been dealing with the past 2 years with the Covid-19 pandemic, and what we are facing with Ukraine. Societies worldwide have been taking extreme precautions to protect one another’s health. By the same token, many countries have been doing all they can, short of combat, to try and help Ukraine prevail.
In Emor, we also learn about my very favorite thing in the whole world (aside from my family): THE JEWISH HOLIDAYS!! If you have attended a Friday night service following Passover, you may have noticed that we do something unique: we count the Omer. When the Israelites celebrated the first day of Passover, the very next day, they are to bring a portion of the first sheaf of their harvest to the priest, who will offer it to God. They are to count seven consecutive weeks, on the fiftieth day, they are to bring a new offering to God of challah and matzah, a perfectly unblemished animal, and the best of the harvest. On the Fiftieth Day, we celebrate what we now refer to as Shavuot, or “weeks.”
Shavuot is commemorated as the day that Moses received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The Torah also teaches in Emor that we are to leave the corners of our fields and the gleanings of our harvest for the stranger, the widow, and the orphan. It is fitting that we also celebrate on Shavuot the first Biblical instance of Judaism welcoming the stranger, with Ruth who was the first person who chose to be Jewish. In the spirit of welcoming, I would like to invite all of you, your friends, neighbors, and any strangers who love music and community, to come celebrate some amazing milestones and celebrations with us in the coming days. We begin the weekend of May 13th, when on Friday night, we will celebrate our Confirmands as they take their place amongst our Temple Jeremiah Jewish community and renew their commitment to lifelong Judaism. It gives us tremendous naches (pride) to watch how they’ve grown into thoughtful adults, and we are so proud of the way they are leading us in prayer that evening. Two days later, on May 15th, join us for our last day of JQuest (Religious School). At 10:30 a.m., Jewish Rock artist and founder of Jewish Rock Radio, Rick Recht, will headline a concert, which is the release of my upcoming album, Sing, Pray, Repeat, generously sponsored by Harry and Lauren Major. Watch here as Rick tells you all about it. It is songs we sing in JQuest and in worship, so come prepared to sing along and maybe even dance to a couple of techno songs with rap by our very own Matt Rissien. Then, there’s FOOD!! Stay with us for the Brotherhood BBQ after! And then, if you are in 3rd-12th grades, have fun at Six Flags!! Shabbat Shalom!